City Food – Dalbir Singh’s Egg Stall, Outside Pragati Maidan Metro Station
The magic-realism of leaves.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Though The Delhi Walla loves lounging around this omelette stall I was hesitant to talk about it.
For one thing, the owner, Dalbir Singh, isn’t very keen. “Sorry, I don’t want my stall to become the Taj Mahal,” says the elderly Sikh who’s been running it since 1952. “I don’t need your publicity!”
He, however, became my friend (sort of) over the course of several evenings.
This singular stall outside Pragati Maidan Metro station opens every evening and after the sun has gone down.
Perched under a grand peepal tree, the barely lit stall drowns under the shadows of its multitude of leaves resembling the canvas of an impressionist painting. When the leaves — and their shadows — tremble on breezy evenings, the stall seems to move, like a slow river boat.
Just behind it is an old wall from the time when Pragati Maidan’s great exhibition halls still existed. With the recent demolition of some of the structures, the wall adds to poignancy of the setting.
The owner, who came to Delhi all those years ago as a Partition refugee, has a charming unpredictability about him. Sometimes he chats, and at other time he withdraws and barely utters a word, remaining as quiet as a fakir sworn to lifelong silence.
Nearby, there’s the lane stretching right into the Metro station, teeming with boisterous food stalls decked with fairy lights and marigold garlands. By comparison, our unembellished stall shaded by leaves seems almost ethereal.
Enigma of a shadowy egg stall